New York Magazine:
I am an Eeyore; I know this. I’m a glass-half-empty, worst-case-scenario, dwell-on-the-imperfections, existential-dread ruminating worrywart, and I envy the people I encounter who seem to effortlessly exude perkiness and fun. That’s not to say there’s no joy in my life; it just doesn’t come as naturally to me as it appears to for others. And yet despite fully meeting the textbook definition of “the opposite of an optimist,” I’ve never thought to label myself a pessimist.
Now, new research seems to show that cultural perceptions of mental states may indeed mediate their physical effect. In a study published last month in the journal Psychological Science, a team of psychologists from the University of Wisconsin-Madison reported that positivity was related to improved health markers in Americans, but not in Japanese people.
The study authors analyzed health data from 1,017 American and 374 Japanese people, taken from the Midlife in the United States and Midlife in Japan studies, both funded by the National Institute on Aging. Participants reported how frequently they had felt ten different positive emotions in the previous 30 days, and blood samples were taken to measure lipid levels, an indicator of heart health.
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